Counting Zeros – Basic Google Analytics Troubleshooting

I’ve been spending more time in the Google Analytics Product Forums – it’s a great way of staying sharp, many of the questions and issues are similar to the ones my clients face, and it’s nice to be able to contribute to the community there.

One of the most common questions I tend to see there is something along the lines of ‘Why can’t I see any data’. Here’s some tips to get started, if you’re staring at a bunch of zeros:

1. Is your tracking code installed correctly?

Check to see that the Google Analytics tracking code (GATC) is actually on the page and deployed throughout your site. Use a tool like Screaming Frog to scan your site to verify that you have a near as damn it 100% deployment of code.

The Analytics Helper extension for Chrome is a quick way of seeing if there is GATC code on the page.

If you see code, then check to see whether it’s firing – I use Google Analytics Debugger all the time. That will tell you exactly what’s being fired off. Top tip – the Debugger tool uses the Developer Console to display results; when it’s open right click on the console and select ‘Preserve Navigation’ – that way you can look back over a series of calls to GA.

2. Do your UA-XXXXXXXX-X numbers match?

Pretty basic this one, but check that the GATC UA number on the website matches that of the profile your’re looking at. That’s the number which appears in your GATC on your website – compare it with the UA number beside the profile name in the main accounts list in your GA interface.

3. What filters are in place?

If you suddenly see data flatline, but the code’s still on the page and firing, then check out any recent filters you’ve configured. A poorly constructed regular expression, or selecting ‘exclude’ rather than ‘include’ can kill your data. I recommend always have a test profile where you can experiment with new filters before launching them on your main reporting profile – remember, if you break your data, you can’t go back and restore it.

4. Have you been patient?

If you’ve just installed the code then take a deep breath and wait – in the support documentation Google says it can take up to 24 hours. It’s usually faster than that, but there can still be a time lag. Check the Real Time reports – they should show data immediately (assuming that the Tracking Status Information says ‘Tracking Installed’).

If you’re expecting a low volume of visitors anyway, then there may simply be no visits to track – assuming you’ve filtered out your own visits on your main reporting profile use your test profile, or another unfiltered profile, to check that your own visitor data makes sense.


Want to learn more? You’re welcome to talk to me about GA, we can also meet up at the forthcoming Digital Knowledge Day 2013 – Stockholm 10th April, Sweden.

Digital Knowledge Day 2013: Don’t work in silos

First, I need to be upfront and say this is a shameless plug for a conference which Search Integration, the awesome consultancy I work for, is hosting in April.

So, with that bias declared, I can go on to say that this is not a conference to miss; especially as the theme ‘Don’t work in silos’ is still, and so, relevant in digital marketing today. This resonates with me, as I’ve been in too many projects and jobs where, despite a underlying acknowledge of the importance of the web, there is still a lack of a coordinated approach in presenting a company digitally. As my colleague Christofer Brugge writes on our blog, it can be as simple – though as critical – as colleagues not talking to each other, or not having an adequate awareness of each other’s activities. Digital Knowledge Day 2013

In a previous job I worked at a university where the system for presenting the education we offered (essentially our product) was ring-fenced by a blinding complexity of multiple databases, restricted windows of opportunity for developing content and a general disconnect with the marketing efforts of the university. This was a ‘silo’ effect – however much the website was developed the database content sat in the background driving the customer experience no matter how much it was dressed up. This effect rippled through the organisation, where the even the offline catalogue format was steered by the database as well.

With that kind of experience in mind, the line up of speakers we’ve got is particularly cool – they worked with the silo effect head on, and come up trumps. They include Tracy Green, Head of Online Services for the UK parliament (fresh from implementing a new content management system across several websites, as well as launching an award winning mobile intranet site – what’s not to like?), Olle Ahvne, Marketing Communication Manager for Ericsson (again, an award winning strategist) and Karin Zingmark, PR manager for Viasat (who has led Viasat’s explosion onto social media). We’ve put together so many awesome speakers – check them out!

(BTW, for you non-Swedes, the conference will mostly be in Swedish).

What: Digital Knowledge Day 2013

When: April 10th 2013

Where: Hotel Rival,Stockholm, Sweden

Complete your booking here!